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Gallery: Massive blaze rips through Blackburn Mill
A HUGE blaze at a derelict mill caused the roof to collapse amid dramatic scenes last night.
Firefighters were called after flames were seen coming from the top of Apex Mill, on the corner of Bold Street and Randal Street, in Blackburn.
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, with police saying last night they could not rule out that it had been started deliberately.
Five fire engines attended the scene and an overhead crane was used to combat the flames from above.
Randal Street was closed from its junctions with Oswald Street and Shear Brow, with police officers directing traffic.
The flames attracted a number of people to the street, with residents standing on their doorsteps watching the drama unfold.
One onlooker said: “We saw the smoke at first and thought there was a car on fire nearby.
“But a few minutes later, the roof went up.
“It all happened very quickly.”
Another said: “When I went to the mosque, everything was quiet, but when I came back it was chock-a-bloc.
“There were huge flames coming from the building.
“We see a lot of kids going in there and the police have been up a few times.”
Sgt Nick Collier was co-ordinating the police operation at the scene.
He said: “A large fire was reported to the fire service at 7pm and they deployed several appliances.
“The cause is as yet unknown and subject to an investigation.
“The fire service will carry that out and liaise with the police.”
In 2010, planning permission was granted to the Adhan Group of companies to develop the site.
At the time, the red-brick Victorian Mill was described as being in a ‘poor state of repair’.
Also known as the Randal Street Works, it was originally a reed and heald-making business, started by James Haydock in the 1870s. It continued in this use until 1933.
Later uses included warehousing, animal foodstuff production and a printing works.
The application sought to demolish the existing building and replace it with nine retail units with two community function halls on the first floor of the new building.
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